Aunt Kate’s Chili Sauce

The quick answer:  Every family has favorite recipes that have been handed down; sometimes there's a story attached.  But first, a caution about supplement pills.


A Brief History of Supplements

Has any nutritional discovery captured the public fancy quite like vitamins?   You may not remember, it started a century ago, but there was magic to vitamins—lives could be saved by taking a tiny quantity of these vital molecules.  Vitamins led to the false idea that a single nutrient, captured in a pill, could remedy a deficient diet.   Vitamin supplements became a business, a big business, using factory-made versions packaged as pills.  

Today many take vitamin pills as an umbrella insurance policy against poor eating habits, thinking it can’t hurt.  So that’s the question:  Can vitamins taken outside of a doctor’s care be unhealthy?  The answer may be yes.  A study in the prestigious English journal Lancet found that people who take multivitamins felt justified to eat fast food, or exercise less.  

A couple of years ago the N.Y. Times ran a cautionary article titled, News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins.”  The article summarized recent studies and questioned the non-prescribed use of vitamins.  This week the N.Y. Times ran another article, “More Evidence Against Vitamin Use.”  This article referred to two new studies:

Prostate cancer:  A 35,000 man trial of vitamin E (400 IU) and selenium (200 ugm) supplements against prostate cancer was stopped in 2008 when it appeared the supplements might actually be causing prostate cancer.  Further follow-up, just released, showed 17% more prostate cancer among those getting the supplements. 

Recent large studies have demonstrated that the current model of PSA screening and biopsy don’t reduce prostate cancer mortality.  Worse, they add a lot of mental and physical suffering for no clear benefit. This post advised that "the best protection (against prostate cancer) is prevention through lifestyle reform."

Supplements for women:  A recent report in The Archives of Internal Medicine on 38,000 Iowa women studied for 19 years, revealed “a higher risk of dying for women using multivitamins and other supplements compared with women who did not.”  Only calcium supplements were associated with improved mortality.     

If I had a health condition and my doctor prescribed vitamin or mineral supplements, I might ask a few questions but I would follow his or her guidance.  Otherwise I follow our earlier post where we discussed vitamins and suggested the best source was the traditional way—through a varied diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and a little meat.      

Skeletons in the closet

We were just up in the Rocky Mountains of Utah, enjoying the fall season.  The beautiful wife decided to make chili sauce using a family recipe and the old farmhouse was soon filled with fragrant odors.  At the end of the summer, tomato vines are full of partially ripened tomatoes that will just rot.  As a kid, I found them useful for throwing on Halloween, but you can also make them into chili sauce.  It helps if you have some apples lying around.  Everyone loves this chile sauce.  It’s good with meat, you can use it in 1000 island dressing, and I always have it with omelets.  Whenever we have it, I think of Aunt Kate.

Got any old skeletons in your family closet?  Here’s a story, but I’m keeping our skeleton out of sight.  The Depression was pretty hard for my Mom and her widowed mother; they barely got through it.  Fortunately they lived near a strong woman we all remember as “Aunt Kate,” though she was actually a great-aunt to me.  Aunt Kate looked out for my Mom, shared the milk from her cow, made sure they had food in the house, and was like a second mother.  “The only problem,” my Mom recalled about her second mother, “was if I did something wrong, I heard about it twice.”  It worked, I believe, for Mom is a very good woman.

A family tragedy happened during this time—so terrible it was carried in newspapers all across the country.  That’s about all I’m going to say.  It involved a sister of Aunt Kate and when Kate went over to offer condolences, well, things got out of hand.  Maybe Aunt Kate made the mistake of saying something like, “This wouldn’t have happened if you’d followed my advice.”  I really don’t know what she said, but her visit so upset the sister that a bad fight broke out and they both wound up in front of the Justice of the Peace.  I said Aunt Kate was a strong woman but her sister was too, and given the tragedy that had happened, the judge took sympathy with the sister.  His judgment against our saintly Aunt Kate was unbelievably harsh:  six months in jail. 

Kate was so shocked and angered by the injustice of it all that she just threw a fit.  Women may be sweet on the outside, but they have a fire within.  Have you ever seen a wronged woman in full rage?  For the poor judge, I think, it was like looking into an active volcano and he began to backtrack.  “Sentence suspended,” he offered, “if you’ll all just stay away from each other.” 

And that’s what happened.  Like boxers, each sister retreated to her corner of the ring and they never spoke again, as far as I know.  It affected everyone; the children and grandchildren didn't socialize either.  Nearly three generations have passed and we’re just now getting acquainted.  One cousin lives near me; she’s a delightful person and it’s a pleasure to get together, though there is the sadness for the lost years.  But not all was lost—Aunt Kate left us her recipe for chile sauce. 

Aunt Kate’s Chili Sauce Recipe


12 large peeled tomatoes

12 peeled apples

3 large yellow onions

3 green peppers

2 stalks celery

1 pint apple cider vinegar (Vinegar provides acid essential to this method of sterilization.)

¼ cup salt

2-1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp each of ground mustard, black pepper, ground cloves, and ground cinnamon


  • Grind tomatoes, apples, onions, and celery and place in a heavy pot.  (If tomatoes are very juicy some fluid can be set aside and added later, if needed.)  Bring to boil and simmer 40 minutes, stirring as needed.
  • Add vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices.  Simmer 2 hours at low heat, or until desired consistency, stirring every 15 minutes to avoid scorching.
  • Sterilize canning bottles in dishwasher.  Ladle hot chile sauce into bottles and seal with fresh lids sterilized in boiling water.  Lids will “pop” when they seal.

Please comment with recipe requests or ideas.  Brook Andreoli just sent 86 pages of “tried and true” nutrition recipes from her nutrition and cooking club.  Thanks Brook; we’re working our way through them and hope you’ll let us post some.  And we have a backlog of other recipes readers have suggested.  We’ll test them all and share our favorites. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (2)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: generic name
    Word of Wisdom living - Word of Wisdom Living - Aunt Kate’s Chili Sauce
  • Response
    Word of Wisdom living - Word of Wisdom Living - Aunt Kate’s Chili Sauce

Reader Comments (19)

One of my greatest challenges is getting away from cream of soups. Just about everything I learned to make at home growing up contains it! I would love to know how to make a similar sauce from scratch in recipes like stroganoff, tuna casserole and the old favorite of 'funeral potatoes'. Thanks again for such an informative blog!

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGerb

I plan to make this chili sauce next week -- so just to clarify--does the recipe call for green or red tomatoes ( I certainly have plenty of both!).

I also need to reread your post on vitamins. Even though I really try to eat nutrient dense food I have taken vitamins for a couple of decades now. I am not sure what to do now.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Holly, nice to hear from you. You asked two questions: First, if I had plenty, I'd use the red tomatoes as ripening increases nutrients. Second, about your vitamin pills, it's a tough question. After two decades, there's no rush to decide. Ask your doctor next time you see him. He knows your needs best. Best to you.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

Gerb, you asked about a white sauce, as a replacement for using a can of cream of something soup. It's easy to make; after a couple of times you'll be an expert. Perhaps other readers will add their white sauce recipe. Mine is below but here is a link to a basic recipe:

White sauce: Melt 2 T butter; stir in 2 T flour, then stir in 1 cup milk, salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer stirring occasionally as it thickens. Lea Widtsoe, an advocate for whole grains, in her book "How to be Well", said making sauce was the one justified use of refined white flour. When I make my scalloped potato recipe, I replace some of the milk with my chicken stock to add flavor.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

Skip I've been having a marvelous time reading and learning from your blog and getting topics and challenges from you. It's been a fabulous year health-wise for me and my husband. There are some challenges I'm still working on but most I've got down pat now.

It's been an absolute joy to find out just how much I love cooking from scratch! And it tastes SO much better than anything in a box. And the more I learn about cooking, the more I'm willing and able to experiment and make up my own recipes. I find myself looking at recipes differently and thinking "How can I add more vegetables to that" or "How can I reduce/replace the meat in that" or "How can I replace/reduce the sugar in this".

And the thing I was least expecting to happen was our grocery bill has actually gone down! Since we replaced drinking juice and milk all the time with drinking water most of the time we cut out that extra cost. I discovered there are a LOT of recipes I use that I can replace the meat with beans and lentils. That cuts down the cost dramatically. And you know, fruits and vegetables really are not very expensive compared to the other things we used to buy. I thought making our own bread would be expensive but it turns out saving me almost $6.00 a week. It's not a lot but all those things I'm saving together saves us about $200.00 a month! And now that's going to pay down our house and finish our adoption fund.

So many good changes in our lives this year and not just for health! Anyway, here's a recipe we tried last night. It's fast, cheap and delicious! About 4 servings and 20 minutes to cook.

Cabbage & Lentils

1 Head of Cabbage, shredded
1 cup(dry) Lentils
4oz Ham, cut into bite size strips
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

Prepare lentils according to package instructions. (Rinse then simmer gently 10-15 min with lid tilted) Brown ham strips in a large skillet. Add cabbage and cook until cabbage is just starting to wilt. Add lentils, salt and pepper and sauce. Toss to combine and cook 5 minutes more. (Tip: If your pan is too dry, add a little bit of oil if you need the fat or broth/stock if you don't!)

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRill

Rill, you make my heart sing. You could write a book, "The Joys of Cooking". To our motto of "Eat smarter; Look better; Live longer" maybe we should add, "while saving money and having more fun."

To all readers: This is a true endorsement, I didn't pay Rill to say all the right things about healthy eating. But I do love what she says.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

You mentioned how vitamins cause people to feel justified in eating poorly, but what about people who are trying to take eat healthy but take vitamins in addition? Here in Alaska it's sometimes difficult or costly to get good produce and impossible to get much sun in the wintertime, so I take a multivitamin with extra vitamins C and D, in addition to living the healthy changes as much as is practical for us. I do know we get plenty of omega-3s from all the salmon we eat! I am also intrigued by the full-spectrum light bulbs you mentioned previously.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Skip --- You can sub in Evaporated Skim Milk for just about everything that's creamy. It will even whip like cream if the bowl, beaters and the milk are extra cold. Because the texture is thicker than what comes from the carton, it's a great "fool" in receipes like pumpkin or other creamed soups.

I may give your Aunt's Chili Sauce a go, but I'll miss the jar that was a standard in our family while growing up. Mom is Canadian (which may or may not explain why we ate it, but our Nebraskan family did not) --- and that silly spherical jar felt so sophisticated. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLizAnderson

Tom, I envy your access to fresh salmon, so rich in omega-3 EFAs. Vitamin D in your long dark winter is a special case where a doctor-approved remedy is indicated.

Regarding the vitamins and nutrients missed when produce is scarce or too expensive, I'm curious what remedies the native people had in their indigenous diet. You do have a special challenge in Alaska. A good diet is better than taking supplements; but when the diet is deficient, as when produce is limited, they may have a place. Thanks for writing.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

I don't take vitamins or other supplements in pill form. I do, however, take a mix of powdered greens. I bought my at mountain rose herbs (you can order online and they are located in Oregon). I researched different herbs and found a basic recipe at You are getting your nutrients from a natural source and your body knows how to process it. I do this in addition to trying to eat well, not in place of it.

How do you use your chili sauce? I don't make anything with chili sauce now, but I am sure my husband would love that. I would love some quick dinner recipes.
We make mac & cheese that is just pasta cooked in milk instead of water (we use raw milk) and then add shredded cheese in and stir till it is melted. It is so simple and quick.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Laura, this sounds like the Italian version of mac & cheese, made in a frying pan. Your approach is as simple as it can be. I'm going to try it. We made the Martha Stewart recipe the other day but thought it a little complicated. Best to you.

October 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterSkip Hellewell

Anyone know--could I freeze jars of this (like freezer jam) if I don't can? Sounds delish.

I know you probably get an overwhelming amount of suggestions in relation to this blog, but I really think you would find this interesting: 'The Feel Good Cookbook' by Jonell West Francis. Although geared toward people with food sensitivities, the basis of the book is more about healing the body from an inflammatory state (which you have shown can cause a myriad of health issues over time). The beginning of the book is informational--it's not too long but covers some fascinating things about food, health, and spiritual truths. I get the impression from a few of the quotes she uses that she is LDS, but the book is not overtly religious. The recipes are great--many of them are from-scratch replacements for processed foods we often eat. Delicious ranch dressing with four ingredients? Check. Cream of Tomato soup that only takes slightly longer that using a can? Check. Even some fun things like a taste-alike Wendy's frosty that you're not ashamed to feed your kids whenever they feel like it.

Like you, she has made health and healthy recipes seem much more desirable and accesible to a young, busy mom like me. She cooks like my great grandma would have...with a few of todays ingredients and recipes up her sleeves. And like you, she is one of the few people that bring religion into the equation without being preachy.

If you're in Utah again and want to borrow my copy, feel free! (I'm in Utah County.) And since I missed the birthday post--thanks again for your hard work. This blog has made a real impression on me and is changing the way I live. I feel grateful to have heard your voice, even if it's only online. :)

October 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiff

Tiff, thanks for the suggestion. While we were putting tomatoes through the old cast iron food grinder to make Aunt Kate's chili sauce, the beautiful wife was skimming off tomato juice so the chili sauce would require less cooking to get the right consistency. Later we had a drink of the juice and it was really delicious. Had that fresh tomato taste we all love.

About freezing chili sauce without the cooking involved in canning--sounds more like making salsa. Freezer jam is bacterially safe because the high sugar content inhibits the growth of pathogens. With the chili sauce the vinegar provides acid for open kettle sterilization. These are both traditional methods of preserving foods that are safe for household use. The safety of alternate methods is unknown. (Sounds cautious for a guy who likes to experiment but botulism is a serious issue.)

October 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

Happy Belated Birthday! I've been out of town and so I've just been catching up.
I enjoy the posts and equally so, the comments!
Thanks, Skip, for providing the format for some "healthy" discussions.

October 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLC

I made Aunt Kate's Chili Sauce--and it is the best! Very good and makes a whole bunch. I am so excited. Thanks Skip.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Holly, so glad you tried it. It's a wonderful condiment, we have it with eggs, meat, or whatever. With meatloaf I use as much chili sauce as meat. You can use it to make a quick 1000 island dressing also. Enjoy.

October 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterSkip Hellewell

Thanks for posting that family recipe! I'll have to try it while tomatoes and apples are still around. I'm looking forward to more recipes on this blog.

October 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Amanda, there's magic in a good recipe. I'm fascinated by recipes, by the extreme number, by how few are healthful, and by how many recipe books are printed. Our focus will be on 24 "breakthrough" recipes, meaning recipes that are simple, delicious, easy to make, and also open the door to a new food paradigm. An example is our recipe for making ww bread—bread making is an art and few understand it, or bake it, but once you make a good loaf of healthy bread, you're empowered to do it forever. This is one of our improvements for the coming year. Best.

October 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterSkip Hellewell

I'm thrilled to try this recipe! If its anything like your other family recipes (applesauce and scalloped potatoes are a fave) I'm sure we'll love it!

Gerb, try the link below for a recipe for a homemade cream soup. We keep the powdered mixture on hand and cook it up in a saucepan before using it in creamy casseroles. Its incredible in green bean casserole! and an awesome addition to any food storage.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>